Can you remember the first time that you were exposed to the 'cool' kids? I can.
Before sixth grade, everybody was included in tag at recess and nobody payed attention to what you were wearing. Man, I loved those days. Those days were easy, but those days came to a screeching halt when I arrived at my first day of middle school wearing a red sweater vest, knee-high socks, and Merrells.
In all honesty, I probably could have lost the Merrells, but they were so comfy! Plus, I had never cared about the way I looked before, so what about middle school would change that? A lot, apparently.
Within the first couple weeks of school, the infamous lunch tables were decided, based on popularity of course. There was the cool table of girls, the cool table of boys, and then everybody who wore Merrells.
This didn't bother me until I started to realize that I had less than half the friends that the popular girls had, and with this realization came jealousy. I thought about what it would be like to sit at the 'cool-kid' lunch table but knew I would probably never get to experience it. At least not as long as I was wearing a sweater vest. Yikes.
Well, my day finally came to sit at the popular kids table and let me tell you it is not all it is cracked up to be. Especially considering my experience ended with rice being thrown at my head.
All of my jealousy about being apart of the 'cool crowd' went away once I found out that being cool meant hanging out with your friends more than your parents, throwing away any items you owned that were not deemed attractive by others (cough, cough - Merrells!), and worst of all, acting like you didn't enjoy gym class because sweating was gross. It wasn't so appealing after all.
Now you're probably wondering, what does this silly middle school story have to do with real-life? Well, I would argue that this story serves as a microcosm of what being 'cool' looks like in all other aspects of life. Let me explain what I mean.
In one way or another, everybody has an inner urge to be considered cool, or popular. But do we ever step back and wonder why that is? Or who even decided what 'cool' means? Unfortunately, we do not and because of this we too often fall into the roles that society has created for us.
It is so important to not let the view of yourself and your worth be effected by our society's view of cool, but this is much easier said than done.
It is tough to look at the 'cool kids' with all their friends and not think that you are a total loser. Trust me, I've been there, but when you have those negative feelings you have to look back and see all the things that your life has offered you that they missed out on. You have to be thankful for who you are and know that everything you offer the world couldn't possibly be wrapped up in an overrated term.
I feel lucky to have realized early that the 'cool' crowd was not for me. I am so glad that I spent my childhood playing catch with my dad and wearing whatever clothes that I thought were awesome, and these feelings have carried with my all the way to college where I spend more of my time exploring than partying.
From time to time, I think that I might be doing this wrong because I'm not following the crowd, but, then I realize that I am doing this right for that exact reason.
Just because everyone is doing it doesn't mean it's right and reducing your individuality for others is a waste of potential. So go out there and embrace yourself, love yourself, and most importantly be yourself, because no one else can determine what makes you cool.